When you start meeting other writers you really only have a few ways to get to know them. One of those ways is to stock their writing and if you’re lucky, they’re blog or personal site. I met Kamsin from a writer’s group created by another author I love (Sarah West) and instantly was drawn to her writing. Why? because Kamsin is a reflective person who causes me to reflect on decisions I make throughout my day. If you get a chance and peruse Kamsin’s site, you will find that she is a genuine writer who really strives to be in the moment and enjoy her journey as a mother in Japan. I encourage you to take a few minutes and say hello on her site! Oh and she’s British which stereotypically makes me interested in her writing. I mean who doesn’t like to read something while imaging a British accent??
A few days ago when I brought my son home from daycare, it seemed as if he was a different boy to the one I had dropped off that morning. Older? It was only 7 hours since I’d last seen him. Taller? All his clothes still fit. But the way he walked was different. A little more confident. He knew something new about the world.
He goes to daycare twice a week, and he doesn’t always come home more grown up than when he left. Some days those leaps, when they come, seem to happen during nap time. There are days when I am sure he has grown taller. Days when his face has clearly changed and he wakes up with a new look in his eyes.
And so a child grows. Some days a whole new version of your little one gets downloaded while they sleep. The list of things they can and can’t do gets rewritten constantly. When you’re waiting for each new skill to appear it can feel like nothing much is changing. Then all of a sudden you find yourself wondering where your baby went.
In long, exhausting days and in the blink of an eye, my son has transformed from helpless, sleeping baby into a two year old with boundless energy. He acquires new skills every.single.day. I can barely keep up let alone keep track of all the milestones.
During the first year of his life I dutifully took a photograph of him every month on his birthday. The teddy bear next to him in the pictures quickly became smaller than him. And at 9 months he crawled away, barely giving teddy a glance over his shoulder. I had to snap quickly to keep them both in the frame.
In the final photo on his first birthday he is just a week away from taking his first wobbly, in-such-a-hurry to get walking, steps. And he is clearly still a baby.
But when it comes to all those other milestones that mark the first two years of life I have been less conscientious. I am not very good at recording the milestones as they take place.
He learned to smile. Roll over. Hold his head up all by himself. And I forgot to write any of it down. I can tell you when he crawled because it seemed to take so long to happen. He got so frustrated in the weeks beforehand and it was such a relief for us both.
Then it was just 3 months later when he walked. And I say walked but really it was two wobbly, insecure steps. Repeated over and over till another week or so had passed and he finally starting putting all the steps together.
And as for first words, Mama and dadda not included, his first word may have been bear. Or was it Daisy (our cat’s name)? Or maybe bye-bye. How can I not know this?
What about all the milestones that it didn’t even occur to me to look for? Like the first time he jumped with both feet clean off the floor. Or walked up a flight of steps all by himself. That one took me by surprise as he walked himself up half a dozen steps while we were lounging by the pool on holiday. “When did you learn to do that?”, I wondered.
And what is the point of all these milestones anyway? They let anxious mothers and the child’s physician know that everything is developing on track. And sometimes they are boasting rights. “Little S said thank you all by himself today. Growing up so fast!”
Maybe it’s just our human need to observe, and make note of the passage of time.
The milestone I’d most like to record however, has no defining moment. There was no clear line and yet at some point he crossed it. When did my baby become a little boy?
In Japan, where we live, there is no word for toddler. He was an “akachan”, or baby, but somewhere along the line people started calling him “chichaiko”, little child.
And the mischievous look he gets in his eyes is all boy. His love of trains and cars and kicking balls has bloomed. Like someone flicked a switch and all of a sudden he knew fire engines were cool.
When did this happen? Why wasn’t I paying attention?
I missed his last day as a baby and his first as a little boy.
Was it when he learned how to blow raspberries, laughing hysterically at himself? Was it the day that he learned to say no? Was it when he learned to run at break neck speed round and round the sofa? Was it when he had his first public meltdown on a train?
He still wraps himself around my body and snuggles his face into my neck when he’s sleepy. When the world seems too much for him he reverts to calling me mama instead of mummy. In those moments he still seems like a baby to me.
And he is still my baby. Perhaps he always will be.
I’m a British mom living in Japan with my husband and our son. I blog at http://lifeinthekeyofe.com. I am passionate about staying true to who I am and encouraging others to do the same. Follow me on twitter @kamsin_kaneko or Instragram @kamsinkaneko